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How do we become a CPR Smart School?

You've asked...and we're answering!  Everyone is buzzing about how to receive AHA's CPR Smart School designation in New York.  It's easy...a district just needs to implement a written policy that calls for students to learn CPR (yup, that includes performing compressions) and about AEDs.  The policy must ensure all students learn this lifesaving skill prior to graduation.  School districts can decide the grade level and class that works best for them.  It's that simple.

Do you want to apply to become a CPR Smart School?  Simply email for more information and an application.

Here's to everyone becoming CPR Smart!

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A Great Week for CPR in Schools!

This week, the State Education Department (SED) issued the highly anticipated CPR in Schools Report to the Board of Regents.  Following the presentation, the Regents openly discussed including CPR and AED instruction in the curriculum.  And the support from the Board of Regents was overwhelming!  Members noted the costs are likely lower than presented in the SED report. Other comments included:

 “Yes, great thing to do..”

“…Wholeheartedly support”

“This is something that can save lives.”

“…who wouldn’t support this”

“To save one life warrants the expense.”

 Board members were clearly moved by the outreach from all of you!  This included the action alerts, letters and media advocacy!

Today, the report was on the agenda as a discussion item.  Following the recommendations from today’s meeting, the next step is to make it “official” thru regulations. 

  • SED staff has been directed to develop regulations to present to the Board of Regents for next month’s meeting.
  • The regulations will then be published for public comment (as required by law for regulations).
  • Following the public comment period, the Board of Regents can officially adopt the regulations on CPR/AEDs in Schools.

Thanks to everyone for staying with us thru this long journey!  We will continue to send letters to thank the Regents for their support and commitment until the regulations are formally adopted.  And we hope many of you will join us at the State Education Building for the final vote!

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Congratulations to Shenendehowa on becoming the Capital Region's first CPR Smart School District!

Nine out of 10 victims of sudden cardiac arrest die. If you live in the Shenendehowa Central School District, your chances of surviving sudden cardiac arrest might be higher than average, since students in that district all learn Hands-Only CPR before graduation. Teaching CPR is part of the district’s formal policy. The American Heart Association has recognized Shenendehowa as the first school district in the Capital Region as a CPR Smart School. Shen students clicked to the beat on Stayin' Alive to show just how easy it is to perform Hands-Only CPR. 

 “It’s our great pleasure to recognize Shenendehowa as a CPR Smart School,” said Bob Elling, paramedic and chair of the New York State Advocacy Committee of the American Heart Association. “We know that having CPR performed doubles or triples the chances of survival for victims of sudden cardiac arrest. On Monday, members of the New York State Board of Regents expressed support for CPR in Schools, and are now calling for regulations so that all New York students learn Hands-Only CPR before graduation. Shenendehowa has shown great foresight – and concern for its citizens – by creating an army of lifesavers in this district before law requires it.”

 To qualify for the American Heart Association’s CPR Smart program, school districts must implement a written policy whereby students learn CPR and AED use prior to graduation. 

Sudden cardiac arrest survivor Jeff Keene also shared his story of being saved by CPR.  And his wife also shared what it was like to watch.  “On Christmas day, 2007, while at church, my husband went into cardiac arrest.  Within minutes, he could have died,” said Julie Keene, who works for the Shenendehowa Central School District.  “Because one person, a complete stranger, had the courage and knowledge to begin CPR on him, he is alive and thriving today.”

 “As a district, we have a firm commitment to providing our students with a wide variety of experiences and skills,” said Dr. Oliver Robinson, superintendent of Shenendehowa Central School District. “The ability for them to save a life by learning CPR is of tremendous value. We applaud the efforts of the American Heart Association to make this a given component of the school curriculum.”

 "Clifton Park & Halfmoon Emergency Corps is proud to partner with the Shenendehowa School District in providing CPR and AED training to its staff, which will strengthen Shenendehowa's solid commitment to their student and staff safety,” said Eric Hanchett of Clifton Park Halfmoon EMS, who has worked with Shen staff on training students in Hands-Only CPR. “By translating our real life experience and expertise, we can offer simplified, Hands-Only CPR & AED training, creating empowered students who will be ready and confident to take life-saving action when needed. We are excited about this collaboration and the potential we have to build a safer community together."

 The student were led by their Health Education teacher, Pam Woloszyn. 

“As a health educator, we have a responsibility to not only teach students the skills to perform CPR, but first and foremost to make them feel empowered to step in and ACT!” said Pamela Woloszyn. “Hands-Only CPR truly gives everyone the opportunity to save a life and that’s what I try to inspire students to do.  Through empowerment and inspiration comes engagement and the students feel they truly can make a difference and help others in a time of crisis.”

 “The district has provided education in CPR and AED for over 15 years,” said Rebecca Carman, director of policy and community development for the Shenendehowa Central School District. “This is a program that has little cost to the district. CPR is a life skill that every student should be exposed to.”

Thanks to all the students, board members, teachers, school administrators and Dr. Robinson for supporting this lifesaving lesson!

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It’s Not too Late – RSVP for Lobby Day, April 22nd

Can you believe it, our annual California AHA/ASA Lobby Day in Sacramento is just a few weeks away?  

California AHA/ASA Lobby Day

Wednesday, April 22nd

West Steps of the Capitol

10am - 3pm (Registration starts at 9am) 

It’s not too late! Register here if you’d like to attend! 


A few highlights of the event will include: an opportunity to connect with other AHA/ASA advocates, an advocacy training to ensure you’re prepared for the day, motivational speakers and survivors connected to the AHA/ASA mission, the opportunity to directly communicate with your state legislators, and two complimentary heart-healthy meals. 


If you haven’t done so already and are planning to join us in Sacramento, please register here. Registration is required so we can schedule face-to-face meetings with your legislators’ offices!

Please contact me at your earliest convenience if you have any questions via email at or via phone at (916) 431-2364. 

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This was big - a look back at Oregon Lobby Day 2015

Guest blogger: Sarah Higginbotham, Oregon Government Relations Director

On Tuesday March 3, AHA advocates filled the halls of Oregon’s State Capitol to share their stories and ensure that decision-makers heard about our priorities during AHA’s Oregon Lobby Day.

As Dr. Cleveland, AHA Advocacy Chair, shared with everyone that day: “Advocacy is good for us.” And advocating for policies to keep Oregon healthy and safe, means our actions are good for everyone else too.

Here’s a quick video, starring our advocates, with the highlights: AHA Oregon Lobby Day Video. (More photos here: Lobby Day photos.)

Just how big was Tuesday?

I couldn’t be more excited to say “thank you” 76 times today—to each and every nurse, firefighter, doctor, survivor, student, mom, sister, brother, father, and friend—who showed up and spoke up.

Thanks to our 76 advocates we held lobby meetings with over one-third of the legislature, educating and advocating on our top policy priorities.

And today, we’re 76 steps closer to passing policies for a healthier Oregon—an Oregon where every Oregonian is trained in school to save a life with CPR, where kids can learn and grow in healthy school environments, and where tobacco is no longer the number one preventable cause of death.

It was a busy at the Oregon Capitol and AHA advocates accomplished a lot—take a look:

  • Face time with decision makers: Advocates lobbied over one-third of Oregon’s legislative offices, meeting face-to-face with 23 legislators and 12 staffers. Decision-makers heard about our three priorities: requiring all Oregon students to be CPR trained before graduating; eliminating junk food marketing from schools; and increased funding for Oregon’s tobacco prevention and cessation program. 
  • 60 new lifesavers: High school students hit the hallways, training over 60 legislative staffers in Hands-Only CPR. 
  • 1,000 Beats to Save a Life: 45 students took to the Capitol rotunda, working together to perform 10 straight minutes of CPR, demonstrating just how simple the steps are to save a life. 
  • Special advocates recognized: AHA recognized two special advocates for their dedicated and ongoing efforts to support CPR training in all of Oregon’s schools: Josh Moore, firefighter with Eugene Springfield Fire & Rescue, and Raoul Meekcoms, a sudden cardiac arrest survivor with a powerful story he’s not afraid to tell. (Click on their names to read more about their inspiring work.) 
  • Student shout outs: North Salem High School, South Salem High School, and Valley Catholic Middle School were recognized by Rep. Brian Clem, Rep. Ken Helm and Senate President Peter Courtney on the House and Senate Floors.
  • Proud of our partners: Three organizations who partner with the AHA in Oregon on advocacy efforts spoke on a panel, sharing with advocates their expertise and experience: Upstream Public Health, Voices for Healthy Kids, and Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue.
  • Guest speakers: State Representative Ken Helm spoke to advocates and shared his personal perspective on what learning CPR has meant for his son; Dr. Minot Cleveland, AHA’s Oregon Advocacy Chair, reminded us why advocacy is good for us and why he never gives up; and Eric Batch, Vice President of Advocacy for the Western States Affiliate, on how Oregon can lead the way.
  • Photos, Hashtags, Videos, Oh My: Here’s a video starring advocates with some quick highlights: AHA Oregon Lobby Day Video. (And view the photo album here: Lobby Day photos.)

Our heartfelt thanks from the advocacy team goes out to all of our volunteers who work year round to support the work of the American Heart Association.


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CPR for All Oregon - An Update on SB 79

Guest Blogger – Sarah Higginbotham, Oregon Government Relations Director

On March 12th, Senate Bill 79, a bill that would require all Oregon students to be trained in CPR before graduation had its first public hearing in the Senate Education Committee. SB 79 would help create 45,000 new lifesavers a year by ensuring every student learned the simple, life-saving skill of CPR.

Sen. Mark Hass (Beaverton) and Sen. Jeff Kruse (Roseburg) voiced their longstanding support of a CPR in Schools policy, and Chair Arnie Roblan (Coos Bay)  emphasized just how easy CPR is to learn. No one testified against the bill.  Thanks to the hard work of advocates the bill was voted out of the Senate Education Committee unanimously on March 31st. The next step is a vote by the entire Senate.  

Thank you to all the advocates who made the trip to Salem to testify and share their expertise and stories!

Here are some highlights from the day:

  • The AHA gave a presentation to committee members describing the problem of sudden cardiac arrest, the importance of bystander CPR, and the existing community partnerships with schools as well as resources around the state for implementation.
  • Mike Duyck, Fire Chief at Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue (TVFR), and President of the Western Fire Chiefs Association, testified in support of the bill. Chief Duyck highlighted the training of 15,000 students in TVFR’s service area over the last few years. “The fire service stands ready to support you and our schools with this simple, yet life-saving program.”
  • Jim Balsiger shared his story of survival. When Jim collapsed at home, his daughter saved his life by starting CPR immediately until first responders arrived. It took 45 minutes of CPR as well as 22 shocks to his heart to save Jim’s life. “I never thought I'd be thankful for a group of people breaking five of my ribs but I sure was on that day,” Jim said. “There are a lot of things unanswered that day, but what I can tell you is this: I am here speaking to you today with all my faculties because of CPR.” Our deep appreciation to Jim for sharing his story. You can watch a video by TVF&R about Jim’s story here:
  • PE teacher, Ali Massey, testified for the first time ever on a bill, sharing her positive experience teaching CPR to her middle school students. Ali trained 197 students with the help of Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue. Students were so enthusiastic, they in turn trained 927 family and friends, for a total of 1,124 community members. “In my opinion, middle school isn’t just about academics. It’s also about learning about yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, your interests and values, what is important to you,” Ali said. “One of the most important things that students can learn is how to be a helpful, concerned and active members of their community.”
  • Kaylee Nelson, a recent UO graduate and the current Miss University of Oregon, is also an active volunteer with Eugene Springfield Fire & Rescue’s CPR in schools program. Kaylee shared that ESF&R has helped train 3,000 middle and high school students in CPR, and over 1,500 community members. Kaylee also spoke eloquently about her own experience in an emergency situation with a loved one—and why she’s committed to ensuring the next generation knows CPR.
  • The Oregon Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians also testified in support. Other organizations supporting the bill include: Legacy Health Systems, Oregon Health & Sciences University, Oregon Nurses Association and the Western Fire Chiefs Association.

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Grace Firestone

Grace Firestone was given an incredible gift--a second chance at life. Just days after her high school graduation, her brother saved her life by performing CPR until EMTs arrived and what she’s done since is extraordinary. Grace understood that her story had the ability to inspire and worked with American Heart Association staff to convince decision-makers that teaching every student hands-only CPR was not only feasible, but necessary. Thanks to her dedication and a two-year effort, all Delaware students will now graduate with the skills to save a life.

In addition to her health advocacy work, Grace is studying to take the MCAT for Fall 2016 entry into medical school, serves on the patient advisory board of Christiana Care Health System and is captain of her club soccer team, a sport she wasn’t sure she could return to. For a woman barely in her 20s, Grace has already left a lifesaving legacy and her work is just beginning.

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Urge Senators to Lift the Cap on Charitable Donations!

Please tell Senate Finance Committee members that limiting the amount of funds non-profit organizations can raise in Vermont to fund their missions is the wrong way to raise revenue.

The Vermont House has passed legislation that would cap itemized deductions at 2.5 percent of the state standard deduction ($15,500/individual; $31,000/couple). The bill, which reportedly raises $33.2 million, is now before the Senate Finance Committee. Please contact members of the Senate finance Committee at and tell them that such a cap could have an adverse effect on the good work the AHA is doing in Vermont.

In a response to Vermont’s non-profit community recently Senate Finance Committee Chair Tim Ashe stated the following, “…one thing is clear – Vermont’s tax system is in need of change. We currently tax the things that are not growing, and we do not tax the things that are growing. I am in no jag whatsoever to merely raise new taxes to “get us through this year.” We really do need a long-term approach so that both government and our non-profit partners have stable funding for planning and operational purposes.”

We agree. Please tell committee members that implementing excise taxes on tobacco and sugary drinks could raise significant revenue for the state but more importantly, deter unhealthy behaviors that lead to diseases such as heart disease, stroke and cancer that are costing the state millions.

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Public Health Passes CPR in Schools

The Public Health Committee recently voted out a bill requiring high school students learn Hands-Only CPR and AED awareness before graduating. There was overwhelming support for the legislation and committee members spoke glowingly about the bill during the comment period before the vote. This was a great victory for the American Heart Association volunteers who testified at the Public Hearing. The Bill has picked number of cosponsors since the public hearing, currently the number stands at thirteen, including newly elected State Senator Ted Kennedy Jr. The next step for the bill is a vote in the Education Committee. American Heart Association volunteers have been reaching out to to the members on the Education Committee to ensure the CPR in Schools Bill successfully moves out of the committee. There are currently 21 states that require high school students learn CPR before graduating, and Connecticut is on track to become the 22nd state to have students learn the lifesaving skill.

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Carla Leonard Has a Second Chance...

Thanks to Louis' Law, Carla Leonard is alive and can watch her daughter grow.

As a school crisis intervention aid, Carla  had grown to hate one part of her morning routine: bumping her head on the AED situated right near her desk.   Ironically, CPR and that AED saved her life.  She was 43 when she went into sudden cardiac arrest during the morning pledge.  The school nurse quickly started CPR and used the AED.  This gave Carla  a fighting chance at survival until EMTs arrived.

Carla knows she is one of the lucky ones.   About 90% of sudden cardiac arrest victims do NOT survive.  As a survivor, Carla is now doing everything she can to help change this grim statistic.  New York put safety put by requiring schools to have AEDs.    Now, Carla has personally contacted each member of the Board of Regents to urge them to take the next step -  to require CPR and AED instruction for students.

We're getting closer...will you join Carla by contacting the Board of Regents today? 

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